Finished in 2017, the “Magnificently Modern” Bernal Heights home at 175 Brewster Street was purchased for $2.2 million that November and returned to the market priced at $2.395 million four months ago, a sale at which would have represented net appreciation of just 8.9 percent since the fourth quarter of 2017.

The 2,356-square-foot, four-level home is outfitted with an elevator between its floors and features “nicely separated zones for residents to work/school from home with privacy,” with an open main level, a family room on the floor below, three bedroom suites (one of which opens to an oversized patio and rear yard), a stacked garage for two cars and “pano[ramic] views from every level.”

Reduced to $2.295 million in early October, the home was then re-listed anew in November as a “Luxury Live Auction,” with “bidding to start from $ 1,700,000” (which was the new list price on the MLS).

And the sale of 175 Brewster has now closed escrow with a contract price of $2.15 million, which is officially “$450,000” over asking (!) according to all industry stats and aggregate reports but $50,000 (2.3 percent) below its 2017 value on an apples-to-apples basis.

At the same time, the Bay Area index for single-family home values is up 14.9 percent over the same period of time and the “median sale price” is up as well.

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by Eric

    Location, location, location… A nice modern house in a not so nice location. It’ll be a long time before that particular house is worth 3 million…

    • Posted by sforthright

      Yeah, the freeway views from this side of Bernal are less than exciting. Nice house though.

    • Posted by Ken m

      re: location. You’re just as equidistant from very industrial Bayshore and a tangle of freeways.

      Bought by an optimistic flipper.

  2. Posted by haighter

    Nice place, but I see two major flaws (1) location next to highway and (2) the kitchen is the first room you walk into off the foyer.

    • Posted by Michael

      “major flaws…the kitchen is the first room you walk into off the foyer.”

      As the person who is responsible for transporting our household’s groceries from the car and porch, I strongly disagree…

    • Posted by Neighborhood Activist

      I concur with Michael… the kitchen is usually considered the center of a home, what room do you think should be the first room you walk into? I think it’s a plus, not a minus.

      But I concur about the location… ugh. Besides the freeway views and noise, there are vacant lots between this property and the freeway which are likely to get built up before long, I imagine… empty land is a valuable commodity. Maybe blocking the freeway would be a net positive, I don’t know. But I’m not a big fan of Bernal and its narrow winding streets. It’s not at all walkable and access is difficult, I imagine you get used to it. I think you can do better for the money.

      But it’s a beautiful home.

      • Posted by haighter

        Interesting difference of opinion! To me, having the kitchen right when you walk in the front door is tacky, reminds me of the floor plan of generic boxy apartments. Also, I don’t want to look at the clutter and detritus a kitchen inevitably accumulates every time I or my guests step inside. Even if you clean daily or have a housekeeper (or never cook).

  3. Posted by Richard

    So $913 per square? Seems about right for where Bernal is now. I think the per square shows the nice house vs freeway battle ended in a push. Guessing the buyer cares more about the inside than outside, and was highly motivated to buy in Bernal. And maybe they anticipate walking to the Clam House for dinner once that’s allowed?

    I am happy to have cashed out of Bernal last year. Feel for all the 2017/2018 buyers. I probably locked in most of my gains in 2015.

    • Posted by Ohlone Californio

      Yeah? I think if this house were to be magically transposed to a similar street on the West side, like Esmerelda or something, it’d be more like ~$1200+/f

    • Posted by Eric

      Richard, when did you buy the house that you cashed out on? Just curious about your timing. Do you think Bernal is overpriced now or has good upside still?

      • Posted by Michael

        “I am happy to have cashed out of Bernal last year. Feel for all the 2017/2018 buyers. I probably locked in most of my gains in 2015.”

        Seems pretty clear and I concur. Trending down.

      • Posted by Richard

        I agree with Michael, trending down ever so slightly attm. But long term Bernal and sf have big upside. The buyers of my SFH will be bummed if they sell this year or next, but stoked by 2026 (you heard it here first). I bought in 2013. Got dumb lucky.

        • Posted by Eric

          Thanks Richard. Were you living in the house and sold it to move elsewhere? If so, what neighborhood in SF or where did you go? Just curious as to what you see as good value right now

          • Posted by Richard

            Hard to say where the value is in this market, but if I had the spare cash I would pick up a 1BR condo in one of the newer developments (or older building in Nob Hill or Russian Hill). I think Bernal still has the best value SFH in SF if outdoor space isn’t that important to a buyer. Hard to beat Cortland, 30 minute commute to the Valley, SF address/access, and real community vibe for the price. My two cents. YMMV. Are you in the market Eric?

        • Posted by Eric

          I sold my place in 2020 in Bernal. We had bought a few years before you did and did very well with it (tripled in 9 years). We moved west to a larger single family home with lots of outdoor space. We’ve got a bunch of cash and are considering a rental investment property but it has to be a sound investment.

        • Posted by jenofla

          Why are they stoked by 2026? Is that the inheritance tax sunset? I just spent a whole day crunching numbers regarding Prop 19 and came to the realization: it doesn’t matter what I do, the gov’t is going to get the money and maybe I should just retire as early as possible and enjoy what I have since I can’t pass that much to the kiddos. It’ll be kinda unfair, because I’ll get to enjoy the fruits of my parents’ labors, but not pass it on to the same degree down to my kids.

          • Posted by heynonnynonny

            If the unfairness bothers you, can’t you just donate your inheritance to the less fortunate?

          • Posted by jenofla

            Thought about it but my parents were old school immigrants. Shocked by how many social services this country had. The “less fortunate” in this country always seemed to be way more comfortable than anyone in the old country (and old times, since the old country is actually doing alright now). They would be pissed if I didn’t give it to the grandkids, as spoiled as they are. Maybe I’ll give it to the national parks. They liked those.

            Eh, Prop 19 and diminished inheritances don’t bother me that much, I was just following in my parents’ footsteps of accumulating as much security as possible in case another world war or famine breaks out. But totally worth paying more in taxes if it means we’ll be fine during the next world war/famine. Right? Right?

  4. Posted by Andy C.

    Pretty tiny kitchen for a sfh at this price imo.

    • Posted by Notcom

      I’d say “pretty tiny” for any house….at any price.
      OTOH it has a remarkably large gym *(tho it looks like they simply repurposed BDR#3)

  5. Posted by johntrev

    Sure seems like a less than ideal floor plan. As noted, small kitchen for this price point, entry into kitchen from front door, plus no front hall closet/storage, bedrooms widely separated from one another (could be good for some, bad for others…), bedrooms with door/access/ where-to-put-the-bed issues, a main floor with no functioning relaxing space (“living room” is staged as dining room, “dining room” is only big enough for a sitting chair and bar stools at the kitchen counter).

    • Posted by Chris

      If you scroll through the pictures, you will see the house does have a large living room/family room on the next level. What you call the “dining room” staged as a living room is really just a part of the kitchen—it would probably make more sense if the decor marked it clearly as an extension of the kitchen seating area.

      • Posted by johntrev

        Thanks; I had seen all the photos including the floor plan and its room designations when I made my comment.

        The issue is that for all the pretty photos, views (tightly edited here to include only treetops and not the Bayshore freeway and warehouse roofs below), and nice decor, the space itself is significantly compromised in ways that aren’t easily fixed.

        Most people who spend over $2M on a house want a place to hang up their coat or put away shoes or a dog leash when they come in. They want a kitchen with adequate counter space. They want to be able to entertain guests near where the food is being prepped, not a flight or two down because there’s no place nearby to comfortably sit. They want access to the handsome patio without having their guests go through the gym/ third bedroom.

        One can get swayed by flashy and expensive details like an elevator or car stacker and lose sight of how the house functions and what it is like to live in on a daily basis.

  6. Posted by Fishchum

    I don’t see what’s wrong with the kitchen – I prefer a smaller, more efficient kitchen. I don’t understand this obsession with a huge kitchen or – even worse – shoehorning in an “island” into space where it just doesn’t work.

    • Posted by Michael

      I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the kitchen. I think people are trying to discount the drop in price.

      • Posted by Ex-Bernaler

        I can’t stand an island/bar with a sink on it. All your dirty dishes and pots/pans pile up in a place where theoretically people are going to do a lot of sitting and eating.

  7. Posted by BDad

    What’s a stacked garage?

    • Posted by Notcom

      It’s a mechanical device – i.e. a “lifter”- that allows two cars in the same ground area…w/ the corresponding loss in flexibility since only the ground level car can be freely moved.

      • Posted by jose

        not true. both cars are ‘independently accessible’ if that’s what you mean by freely moved.

        • Posted by Notcom

          I meant that a car that’s 6 feet in the air (or underground) can’t be driven off until it’s lowered (or raised) into place. Are you arguing that it can be ??

  8. Posted by Freeloader

    Presumably the fridge is past the giant cabinet… what’s behind the giant cabinet?

    • Posted by Notcom

      According to the floorplan, the ‘giant cabinet’ IS the frig.
      (Apparently the effort to camouflage it was 100% successful)

  9. Posted by Anon

    Does anyone know the ROI of an elevator in new construction/remodels?

  10. Posted by ExSFLandlord

    Yes I know, I know it’s not San Francisco…but apples to oranges, I’ll take the mountains (name link) over the zero lot line and freeway views any day. just saying …. $936K vs $2.15M

  11. Posted by Jeffrey W. Baker

    House with three widely spaced bedrooms all having private baths clearly intended as an Airbnb or maybe marketed to roommates. Completely useless for families who make up a significant chunk of the buyer side of the 3bd market. With the Airbnb business in the toilet, no wonder about the falling price.

    • Posted by ChuckD

      Disagree. Ensuite bathrooms are selling points, space between bedrooms too (unless you have a newborn but especially if you have teenagers in the house…)

    • Posted by Ohlone Californio

      You’re putting too much on this Airbnb concept. I really don’t think that’s much of a thing when it comes to single family house design in SF. For one thing, one can only rent that way for 3 months a year.

      • Posted by Brahma (incensed renter)

        Sure, “one can only rent that way for 3 months a year”, legally, but many, many bootleg landlords and AirBnB “hosts” flout local regulations because they’re ersatz anarcho-capitalists or they’ve looked at San Francisco’s unwillingness to enforce certain laws and decided that if that’s applicable to one group, it can be applied to them, so they can simply proceed until they are caught.

        • Posted by Ohlone Californio

          Be that as it may it’s little to do with ~2M house floorplan design.

  12. Posted by Eric

    Toured this property. Inside is beautiful, some road noise outside but very usable patios/ backyard. Great home for a small family.

    Genuinely curious, where would you do better in Sf for this price range?

    • Posted by Eric

      You could get a great place in westwood highlands, westwood park, forest hill extension, etc…

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